Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Trump vulnerabilities for 2024 mount after damning Jan. 6 testimony

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa ( Associated Press) – Stunning new revelations about former President Donald Trump’s struggle to overthrow the 2020 election have exposed growing political vulnerabilities just as he sees another presidential bid.

A former White House aide described Trump this week as a relentless leader with no regard for the safety of elected officials in any of the parties, as he clung to power on January 6, 2021. The testimony of the congressional panel investigating the Capitol attack provided a roadmap for prosecutors to possibly charge Trump with a crime, some legal experts say.

Republican voters – and Trump’s future rivals in the 2024 presidential race – have taken note.

Here in Iowa, the state expects to host the first presidential nomination contest in about 18 months, several voters indicated Thursday that they are open to another presidential candidate, even if Trump were to run again. At the same time, some conservative media have outlets of the former president. Supporters of multiple IDP presidential prospects have also indicated publicly and privately that they increasingly feel encouraged to challenge Trump in 2024 after the explosive new evidence.

Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, drew about 350 conservative activists Thursday to a congressional fundraiser in Sioux County, where Trump won 82 percent of the vote in 2020.

And there was ample evidence of Trump fatigue. Interviews with a dozen participants have sparked strong interest in a 2024 alternative, even though Trump is on the ballot.

“It will be difficult to find people in this area who support the idea that people are not looking for someone else,” said Dave Van Wyk, a transportation company owner. “To assume that conservative America is 100% behind Donald Trump is simply not the case.”

For some Republican voters, that was the feeling even before this week’s astonishing new testimony.

Former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson on Tuesday provided previously unknown details about the extent of Trump’s anger in his last weeks in office, his awareness that some supporters had brought weapons to the city on January 6 and his ambivalence as rioters who later besieged the city. Capitol.

United States - June 28: Cassidy Hutchinson, An Assistant To Former White House Chief Of Staff Mark Meadows, Testifies During The Select Committee To Investigate The January 6 Attack On The United States Capitol Trial To Present Previously Unseen Material And To Hear Witness Testimony In Cannon Building, On Tuesday, June 28, 2022.
UNITED STATES – JUNE 28: Cassidy Hutchinson, an assistant to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies during the Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol trial to present previously unseen material and to hear witness testimony in Cannon Building, on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

Tom Williams via Getty Images

Upset about the size of the crowd at his “Stop the Steal” rally – many supporters avoided going in because they were armed and did not want to go through metal detectors – Trump said words with the effect of: “I do not give “They are not here to hurt me,” she said, adding that she heard of a separate incident after the rally in which Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle to Capitol to go join its supporters.

That detail caused some setbacks. The agent who was driving the vehicle and another official were apparently willing to testify under oath that Trump never jumped for the wheel.

President Donald Trump Joins The &Quot;Stop The Steel&Quot; Rally On January 6, 2021 In Washington, Dc.
President Donald Trump arrives at the “Stop The Steal” rally on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Tasos Katopodis via Getty Images

But the renewed concern was clear,

The Conservative Washington Examiner’s editors said Hutchinson’s testimony “should ring the death knell” for Trump’s political career. “Trump is not fit to ever be near power again.”

The often Trump-friendly New York Post blew the headline: “Tiran Trump.” And the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal wrote: “Just when it seems like Donald Trump’s behavior may seem impossibly worse after his 2020 loss, a new piece of wild evidence comes along.”

To be sure, conservatives have repeatedly shared serious concerns about Trump over the past few years. And in any case, the former president came forward largely unharmed, sometimes stronger. He was caught on video bragging about sexual assault; he incited a violent attack on the Capitol; and he was charged twice.

Yet Trump sits on campaign funds that exceed $ 101 million and remains very popular with many Republican voters. If there is no doubt, Republican candidates from Arizona to Pennsylvania to Georgia fought each other this mid-season for his support.

“The American people remain hungry for his leadership,” said Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich, referring to Trump’s strong underwriting record and fundraising success. “And while another witch-hunt is blowing up in the faces of Democrats, President Trump is now in a stronger position than ever before.”

But even ahead of this week’s revelations, a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 48% of U.S. adults say Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Views on Trump’s criminal liability are predictably divergent along party lines, with 86% of Democrats and 10% of Republicans saying Trump should be charged. Yet, the fact that almost half of the country believes he should be prosecuted is a remarkable position for the former president, pointing to the problems he may face if he faces the White House again.

Trump reportedly raised nearly $ 9 million together in March and April. Figures for May and June were not yet available, but assistants to the former president say his fundraising has remained strong.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been watching a presidential bid in 2024, says he heard concerns about Trump from donors as well as voters ahead of this week’s testimony, which adds to the former president’s ‘cumulative weight’ ‘s political shortcomings.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-Nj) Speaks With U.s. President Donald Trump (L) After Making Remarks About Combating The Demand For Drugs And The Opioid Crisis On October 26, 2017 In The East House Of The White House In Washington, Dc.  =
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump (L) after making remarks about combating the demand for drugs and the opioid crisis on October 26, 2017 in the East House of the White House in Washington, DC. =

JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

“People are worried that we could lose the ’24 election and want to make sure we do not nominate someone who would be seriously flawed,” Christie said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is also considering a 2024 run, said he sees Trump as a knockout in a GOP primary, even if Republican voters do not pay close attention to congressional hearings, as he suspects.

“His approval rating among Republican primary voters has already been somewhat reduced,” Hogan said in an interview. “Trump was until Joe Biden the least popular president in American history.”

Aides to other Republican presidential prospects said privately this week that Trump may still be the overwhelming favorite to win the next GOP presidential nomination, but they believe his position among Republican voters has gradually waned. There was a broad sense – or at least a hope – that Hutchinson’s testimony would accelerate that decline among voters and donors in a way that would open up opportunities for others.

Marc Short, a senior adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, another likely presidential rival in 2024, was blunt when asked about Trump’s political strength.

“Republican activists believed Donald Trump was the only candidate who could beat Hillary,” Short said. “Now the dynamics have been reversed. He is the only one who has lost to Joe Biden. “

In fact, Trump’s future Republican rivals are leaning in.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves on the January 6 commission and did not rule out a 2024 presidential bid, posed Trump as a direct threat to American democracy in a Wednesday night speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

“Republicans cannot be both loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution. We have to choose, ”she said.

Haley, who said she would not seek the 2024 GOP nomination if Trump participated, declined to say Thursday whether the evidence gave her reason to reconsider that plan. Instead, she sounded an upbeat note.

“If it looks like there’s a place for me next year, I’ve never lost a race, I’m not going to start now,” Haley told reporters. “I will deposit 1 000% and I will finish it. And if there is no place for me, I will fight for this country to the last breath. ”

Farmer Bob de Koning said he remains committed to Trump. He plans to support himself in Iowa’s forerunner caucuses, no matter who runs.

But his wife, Kathy de Koning, said: “We can do better.”

“I just do not know if he is eligible,” she said.

Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press author Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Trump’s fundraising numbers have dropped dramatically over the past two months.

Nation World News Desk
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